100 Questions you may be asked in a senior leadership Interview
These are purely a bank of questions you might face in interviews for leadership positions in schools and colleges. There are no answers I’m afraid you have to prepare answers, sell yourself and describe what makes you an excellent candidate. Be prepared to answer questions on all areas of the role as well as your personel qualities. I suggest you find an appropriate interview partner to practice these questions. I have included links to websites or resources you may find useful for additional information. You may also like to use them if you are about to start the headteacher or deputy headteacher recruitment process for your organisation. Good luck!
Update: Questions from my recent (successful) interview.
- Tell us about a time when a project has not been succesful.
- How do you manage staff conflict?
- Describe your leadership strengths.
- How would you ensure all learners understand how to keep themselves safe?
All of these were followed up by additional questions about my answer.
- From what you have seen or know, what are your views of this school and why have you applied to be its headteacher?
- What issues did you identify from the school’s latest Ofsted report?
- What would you do in your first 100 days?
- Who is the first person you would like to speak to on your first day?
- What did you notice about the atmosphere the first time you visited the school?
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- Describe your leadership style in three words (or 30 seconds)
- How do you see the headteacher’s role in relation to the governing body? (Guidance on good governance makes direct reference to this).
- Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 3, 5 and 10 years time?
- How can you support your staff from day to day?
- How would you balance your workload with your wellbeing?
- How do you ensure staff wellbeing is/becomes/stays a priority?
- Clearly, this is an important step in your career path – how have you tried to prepare yourself for this step?
- What aspects of further professional development do you feel you are likely to pursue in order to carry out your role as headteacher? What would you hope would be provided?
- What do you see as the difference between management and leadership? Which do you consider to be a greater strength for you?
- How do you use your school improvement plan to benefit the school?
- How would you create it?
- Who would you include in the writing of it?
- How do you use your school improvement plan to benefit the students? How would you share it?
- What style of management do you prefer to work for and how would you describe your style?
- Describe the characteristics of a successful leader. Which of these qualities do you possess?
- What can your staff expect of you?
- What opportunity have you had to play some part in the overall management of the school through budgetary issues? How would you manage the process of making decisions within a tight budget?
- What does effective budget management look like?
- Give an example of the management of change. How would you deal sensitively with resistance?
- What are the key features of an effective school? How do you see the role of SMT and middle managers in achieving this?
- How would you develop greater links with partner schools and engage other external agencies, eg social services, district council, police? Why?
- Describe something that has gone really well this term. Why was it successful?
- How would you go about changing entrenched opinions?
- How would you promote the school’s reputation nationally, locally and internationally? Is this important to you?
- Please indicate your position on motivating and leading staff when driving change or development.
- What would you anticipate being the core challenges to your leadership in the first 6 months in this post?
Relationships with colleagues and pupils
- Can you tell us more about what strategies would you use to motivate and support staff?
- The following is a scenario a headteacher may have to deal with.
- How would you handle a complaint made against a valued member of staff by a valued parent-governor, if the teacher was accused of hitting a child? What would you do if the allegation proved to be true?
- If there was a case where you felt there was a conflict between two colleagues? How would you go about encouraging a better working relationship?
- If a colleague were to come to you for advice in handling a difficult class or just a difficult group or individual how would you support them?
- How would you go about establishing good relations with staff already at the school?
- What do you understand by inclusion?
- How does inclusion affect the students in the school?
- How do you manage conflict? Example?
- If I asked a pupil after you had been here for half a term, to describe his or her headteacher what would he or she say?
- How do you ensure that equal opportunities are not just a buzzword?
- How would you deal with disruptive pupil behaviour and who would you involve?
- What qualities and achievements would you like to see a pupil have when he/she left this school?
- How will you recruit and retain staff and maintain teacher morale?
- How do you build a team?
Relationships with the wider school community
- How would you first establish communications with the parents of this school?
- What would you write in your first letter to parents/carers?
- In a case where there appeared to be over expectation on the part of parents and/or under expectation on the part of a teacher, how would you handle this as a headteacher and how might you advise a teacher where this had become a problem?
- How would you encourage and develop the idea of parents as co-educators to participate in their child’s education?
- Can you tell us about the ways in which you have helped encourage parents to participate?
- How would you engage parents that are reluctant to take part in their child’s education?
- If you became aware that there appeared to be a problem at home – perhaps the child became anxious about going home at the end of the day – how would you handle this?
- What kind of role do you think an active PTFA should play?
- How would you promote this school in the local community?
- How would you inspire governors to take an active part in school life?
- Is there a need for the school to participate in social networking?
- How would you deal with an incident of racist language?
- How would you enhance the reputation of the school?
Teaching and Learning
- In this school, how would you ensure all members of staff feel involved in curriculum development?
- What is the place of Assessment for learning and how do you use this in practice?
- How would you use data to maximise attainment?
- What data would you use to celebrate success?
- What is your understanding of the ‘hidden curriculum’ and what place does it have in planning at any level?
- How would you make use of the flexibility now available in the 14-19 curriculum?
- How would you monitor the curriculum to ensure all pupils are receiving a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum? How would you use and disseminate your information?
- What does effective SEN provision look like?
- How do you ensure that the needs of individual pupils are met?
- How would you identify gifted and talented pupils and how would you meet that pupil’s needs?
- Tell me three features you would expect to see in a classroom where quality teaching and learning was taking place?
- What do you see as key strengths and key challenges of personalised learning?
- In your experience, what tends to stop lessons from being good?
- What makes a good lesson?
- How would you use the freeing up of the Key Stage 3 curriculum in order to develop a more effective learning process?
- What are the key points of an effective assessment for learning process?
- How do you think digital technologies, not just computers, can impact on learning?
- How should pupil and school targets be set?
- How, as headteacher, will you know that pupils are making good progress and reaching appropriately high standards?
- How do you know the quality of teaching in the school?
- How will you raise teachers’ expectations of what children can achieve?
- What are your views about an appropriate post sixteen curricula? How will you translate them into practice to maximise take up in the sixth form?
- How do you create time for effective CPD?
- A student hits a member of staff. How do you respond?
- How would you allocate resources to ensure the behaviour of all students reflected school values?
- When do you think it is appropriate to physically intervene in a situation involving young people?
- What makes a school “safe and caring”?
- What policies are important to support a safe school environment?
- What are the staff’s responsibilities in protecting children?
- How would you support staff to react appropriately to the student’s needs?
- When is it appropriate to exclude a child?
- What values does an effective behaviour policy rely on?
- Whose responsibility is behaviour support in your school?
Personal Skills and Resources
- What strategies do you employ to help you cope with stress?
- Do you have, or have you reached, any important goals in your life, outside your working life?
- What areas do you still need to develop professionally?
- What qualities would you bring to the post?
- What connections would you bring to the school and how would these benefit the students?
- Why should you be appointed to this post?
- Can you tell us about a time you demonstrated resiliance?
- What frustrates you?